Packing for NYC / 3 Month Trip

Okay so today I’m packing for NYC, for a 3 month startup/business trip. I’m leaving tomorrow. I have a car and half of an apartment worth of stuff that I’m leaving in storage. Video games, a desktop computer, and a ton of books, a bike. About a car full of stuff.

Originally I wanted to pack my Osprey 40L bag + a full large suitcase. But I can’t bring myself to do it.

Below is my first attempt at packing. 3 Pairs of pants, 2 shirts, 1 sweater, a big jacket, 4 pairs of socks, a few pairs of underwear, 2 pairs of shorts, a beanie and a few t-shirts. Two pairs of shoes (my vans and some generic H&M shoes.)

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Beyond that, I’m only bringing my laptop, charger, toiletries, ear-bud headphones, etc.

It turned out to be too much stuff (I was pretty sure this would be the case) so I left out a few pairs of shorts, the jacket, and the extra backpack. I switched out the big jacket for a lighter jacket with no hood (wouldn’t work in the dead of winter.) But then again, I wouldn’t be bringing shorts or tee’s during winter.

Below is my final setup with everything packed.

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I really wanted to bring my Fjallraven backpack. It’s an amazing daypack. But I’m just not sure how I could do it (can’t you bring two bags on planes?) I decided against it.

So I guess the plan is to empty my bag of all the clothes once I get to the Airbnb, convert it to a messenger bag, and use it to bring my laptop to work everyday.

So look, I really am ready to leave the country for a while…

But I have this new job which is fun and exciting. I will hold off  leaving the country for the next 3 months while I explore what it’s like to be a nomad living out of a 40L bag.  My first thought is that packing for the changing seasons is a real pain.

At the end of the 3 months, I might elope. Or I might go to LA to surf. Either way, it will be a good learning experience

I’m the kind of guy who spends a lot of time inside…

When I have nothing better to do, I play video games. Sometimes I netflix and chill. and I hate that part of my life. I’m hoping that by having no “comfort” possessions I will be released from that cycle and I will go out and explore everything NYC has to offer. I want to get into doing yoga in a classroom setting (I normally do it by myself) and explore the music scene.

I’d love to have a guitar to play on, but I can’t bring my guitar on this journey.

There are a lot of limitations to this lifestyle.

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My Career Ends at 30

Let it be known that I’m not a chump.

I read a lot of lifestyle design blogs. Early retirement stuff. Minimalist travel blogs. Those guys are not chumps. In that world, you’re only as cool as your mobility and freedom.

The old paradigm is to work for 40 years, enjoy a brief retirement followed by a stroke on a golf course.

The new paradigm is to move to Chiang Mai and live like a king while blogging about it and selling ebooks to americans who are trapped in cubicles, following you on instagram.

Sort of joking. Sort of actually how it is.

Anyway, what’s my plan?

Directly after college I worked for 2 years at a normal 9-5 job. I saved a ton of money. Essentially after that 2 years I can go spend 10 years in Chiang Mai if I want. But I didn’t do that.

I kind of just wandered around the U.S. for 2 years, living in like 5 states and hanging out with my friends, rock climbing and surfing. I didn’t travel internationally once. I also had maybe 3-4 “jobs” all of which I quit within 2 months. I started 1 startup, quit, then re-started the same startup and quit, costing about 6 months of time. I got involved with some weird shit. Career-wise, it was 2 years of “what the fuck am I doing?” followed by making enough money to get by.

But I grew so damn much in those two years.

Now I have a job, but with all the skills I’ve learned over 2 years of failure, I snagged a leadership position with a nice salary and a ton of creative and lifestyle freedom. I get to travel to big cities and live a fast paced lifestyle. I get to lead a team. I get to work remotely whenever I want. And my work makes a huge difference (at least to this startup.)

I’m 26, turning 27 in April. I figure I’m going to keep working in earnest until age 30. So it’s a race to make as much money as I can. Which means I’m not taking the safe bet of a safe job, but rather working in high growth positions for startups.

But I’m doing it with the reckless abandon of someone who doesn’t actually give a shit about the outcome. And that gives me a huge advantage.

At age 30, I’ll either be rich or I won’t. Either way, that’s the cutoff for my time in the rat race. At that point, I really will be traveling internationally for extended periods of time, and most importantly not being a full time programmer. I want to do other things with my time at that point (like write, make art, human-centric jobs, teaching, etc.)

Just because I’m grinding until age 30 does not mean I’m putting life on hold. I do most of my conference calls by the pool. I work long hours when I’m passionate, and when I lose that passion I spend days at the beach. I am excited about the opportunity to work in a metropolis (NYC) and meet people who are passionate about their careers. And I will still take vacations (sometimes extended) internationally.

If I wasn’t excited or passionate about my career, I would be busy traveling the world. But I choose to. It’s like a little game.

I want to make a million dollars by 30. It’s a difficult mission to accomplish. If I don’t accomplish it, I won’t beat myself up. But it’s driving me to make sure my career here in the states is exciting and rewarding.

Side note: I may possibly join remote year later this year if my job becomes more steady. I want to build a remote company that travels together, partying and building code.

Live like you’re going to die. Run your career like you’re about to retire.

Kero Kero Bonito Band Review

I first heard KKB when Flamingo came on my local NPR station about a year ago. It’s a British girl of Japanese heritage and two British electronic music producers. They’ve created a poppy string of nostalgic #nerdlife tunes with bilingual Japanese/English vocals.

KKB feels like the kind of project idea you’d come up with while drinking with your friends. Except they executed it. They also seem to have shot a ton of music videos, which proves that their dedication is not just to the music but to the aesthetic.

In order, I would recommend listening to:

Bonito Intro

This song features japanese overdubs and an obvious classic JRPG intro themesong ripoff, showcasing just how truly nerdy they are (I got chills.)

Sick Beat

Off “intro bonito,” their first album. Pretty classic Bonito. It uses a sample from Super Mario 64, once again landing this album in “nostalgia” territory. They’re probably pretty inspired by vaporwave. This album was released in 2014. Favorite line:

It’s often said I should get some girly hobbies instead. But that thought fills me with dread. I’m not in to sewing, baking, dress-making Not eating, bitching, submitting

Flamingo

This is the real banger. Off their second album (2016). At this point they shifted focus from a niche gamer-nerd reference band to writing positive songs that appeal to a general audience (sell outs!) Key points:

The instrumental part with the flute is the epitome of quirky.

The chorus lyrics appeal to a mass audience.

Black, white, green or blue, show off your natural hue.

flamingo, oh oh owoah if you’r multicouloured thats cool too.

You, dont, need to change its boring being the same

flamingo, oh oh oh Your pretty either way.

Trampoline

The instrumentals have settled down significantly in this song, it appears to be mostly about the vocals at this point.

“First you fall down, then you jump back up again. Find your rhythm, momentum is the key.”

“Don’t forget to bounce.”

Conclusion

I like to compare this band to Linkin Park. They started out dedicated to an aesthetic, created an innovative combination of two genres, came out swinging, and produced two epic albums with a ton of music videos. They were really edgy when they started, and slowly changed their aesthetic / lost their edge. It’s their choice if they want to keep going, but I’m not optimistic on future albums. They have done a good job with this project, and it will go down in history as a string of two amazing albums produced by a talented group.

Hacking, and Living out of a Bag.

I’m writing this blog lest I cease to exist. Over the past few years I have become somewhat a ghost. I feel that I’m melding with the internet and losing any personality I once had before I started my career. Not that I mind, I rather enjoy it, and if it weren’t for the fact that the coffee which I so desperately love may kill me, I may do it forever.

Or perhaps I am worried that my personality won’t be shown – I am so reclusive and self centered that I rarely find the time to communicate my intricate inner life. From the outside, I may look positively bland, which is terrifying and understandable. But reader, understand that there is infinite depth in this bearded computer hacker.

Foremost, I am a hacker. I have an engineering degree, but those days are long gone. I do believe that there is a place for engineering in the software world, but not in my world. I have no interest in building perfect, reliable systems. My interest is in building software that works to prove a point. Software that is alive, with all the bugs that come with it.

The decision came shortly after school. I got straight A’s on my algorithms courses in school, and I was recruited by the big name companies (Amazon, Linkedin, Google)… I just had to pass the interviews, which took a lot of preparation. Or I could join a startup which needed engineers and would hire me on the spot. I’m glad I chose the latter.

Years later, during an interview for Uber, I immediately ended the interview after the first question (write an interface for an iterator in Java.) I declared that there wasn’t a “culture fit.”

Anyway, I build systems, mostly by myself, very fast, and to prove a point. This is a startup mentality, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever grow in maturity to the point where I put this mentality down. It’s too fun. Instead, my career question has switched to: “where can I find a company/business that needs to rapidly prototype a technical solution to a problem that would provide them massive benefit if it were solved?”

The above question led me to my current position as the interrim CTO of LiveVoice, inc. It’s a company with 25+ years of experience in the call center industry, but they need a new platform built from the ground up in order to allow customization and rapid growth. This is where I come in. My current challenge is to build the whole system in a couple of months. They’re so used to working with slow dev agencies that they didn’t believe this was possible. I am very happy to be getting paid a salary + some equity to be a hacker. So right now my career is going well.

I currently live out of 1 or 2 bags. I have an Osprey 40L international travel bag, which can carry my laptop as well as about 4-5 changes of clothes and various other knick knacks. I also have a suitcase that contains more knick knacks. I am moving to New York City to live out of AirBnB’s with nothing but my Osprey bag and perhaps the suitcase.

Let me back up, I’m in Atlanta right now. My car broke down last night and I’m staying in Midtown on Williams street right next to the adult swim headquarters. I was watching adult swim last night, which was a weird feeling. Anyway, I’m staying on the 11th floor of a Hilton Garden Inn that was $200/night. After a long road trip from Denver, my car’s wheel got bent by a piece of debris in the road. I was almost home to Tampa where I’m going to drop off my WRX and all my things for a few months. I’m going to put a tarp over it and go to NYC.

So the NYC experiment is to live out of AirBnB’s. You get a good discount when you rent for a month or longer. I went to college in Orlando, went to SF after college, moved back to Florida (Gainesville), moved to Tucson, AZ for a year, and then Boulder, Co. In Boulder I bought furniture and tried to settle down. However, I was unable to settle down since I work remotely and I felt isolated (story of my last two years.)

The reason I feel isolated is because I work remote, at least I think. I Can recall living in Gainesville and working for Sharpspring as a happy time, surrounded by coworkers who became my friends. I have been seeking that. So I am going to NYC to work directly with the founders of LiveVoice. We’ll be in a WeWork every day, building out the system. I expect this will be a fun time.

But while I’m there I want to live in an Airbnb. Just to see if maybe in 3 months i can live in 3 Airbnbs in 3 different places in town (Soho, Williamsburg, Park Slope). Maybe this will be the coolest thing ever. Maybe I can set fire to my WRX and all the remains of my stationary life back in Florida. But I doubt it. I’ll most likely end up grabbing my WRX after the 3 month trip and moving to LA or SF, where we’ll hopefully continue to grow the company. Either that or I’ll love NYC so much I won’t want to leave. Either that or I’ll renew my passport and travel the world for a year on Remote Year.

But anyway, I have some real wanderlust. Or not really. I’m not sure, but I can’t stay in one place. This is partially because I’m always new, always passing through. I’ve become a tourist. And I kind of hate that. I would love to set down roots but right now my wandering mind leads me to new and interesting places.

The most important rule I can give myself is that, wherever I am, I should go out and meet people. Because during the past few years I have learned that although seeing the world is nice, and making money is nice, human relationships are more important.

I wish it weren’t so.

But there will be more to talk about that, as well as my other neurotic thoughts, in a future post.